Moving Into a Much Smaller House

Many of you helped me when my mom was ill, and I was caring for her. Many thanks. Mom lost her battle Sept. 19, 2010.

Now we are moving into her house. We have been planning on moving to a smaller house, empty nesters, for years. I bought mom's house after my dad passed away eight or so years ago. We are not sure if the area, Jersey Shore, will suit us, but the house needs work and living there and doing it just seems easier.

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My problem. One of them anyway, I have always loved her little one level home. But now that she is no longer there, the thought of living there makes me very sad. I am still having a very hard time having lost her. Everything reminds me of her, the house, the gardens, etc. I cry constantly.

The stress of moving is making me nuts. My house is a mess. Her house is a mess. We are moving ourselves (thrifty but not fun). So there are boxes and all at both houses. I am finding it quite easy to throw stuff away. If I haven't seen or used it in years, out it goes. But fitting a four bedroom, large kitchen, dining room, living room, and large family room, into a three bedroom, no family room, galley kitchen is not easy.

We are having an estate sale and then garage sale, but it's so exhausting. I wondered if anyone had any ideas of how to get through this without losing my mind completely?

And the worst thing is that there is only one bathroom. Good gosh, I am 59 years old and need my own potty. There is no place to put another one. Unless we take part of one of the bedrooms. And when we sell, if we do I don't know how easy it is to sell a two bedroom home. Oh my, what to do, what to do.

And we have little to no help. Everyone works you know. If anyone out there has any ideas at all, please post.
All my thanks.

By Valery from Cranford, NJ

April 23, 20110 found this helpful
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All the others have given great advice and their heartfelt support-know that you are not alone. Many of us have downsized (I started out with 5 kids and now they're all married), at first it was hard to part with "stuff", but then I found the less there was around to clutter up, the better the feeling! I gave lots to my kids if they wanted it, some to neighbors, some donated and the rest went in trash. Making the move into your Mom's house will work out for you, and I would consider adding another shower/commode (is there a basement to put in a small bath area there?). You will appreciate the convenience of having it.

As far as getting some extra help, do you belong to a church or a club where the people there might be able to lend a hand with tasks? Putting out a few sandwiches and a beverage to make it a "packing party" might just lift your spirits, too! Enlist the help of people at the other end for when you arrive, have a box all ready for things for immediate use; coffee, phone, toilet paper, cleaning stuff, toweling, shower curtain, hooks, towels, toiletries, sheets for bed; stuff that you know you need right away once you get there. This box travels in your car or load it "Last Box on, First Box Off" include all essentials! This way you can take your time unpacking and getting set up.

I'm sure your loss is still causing much pain..and in time, you will feel better (I lost both parents within same year) and look forward to living life a little bit easier, you don't need the "stuff" to hold onto the memories: those are always inside you. Don't worry about a buyer for a 2-bed home: many singles, bachelors, couples starting out will want to buy it, or another "down-sizer"! :D Take time to have a glass of wine, listen to some music, stop and relax and then tackle next project. You haven't been used to moving, so this is new to you but you'll do fine. You don't have to be a perfectionist..and always enlist help when you need it!! God Bless.

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April 23, 20110 found this helpful
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I went through the same thing a few years ago except that I was selling my parent's home. This might help. Do one room at a time. Empty the room, make the repairs, then put the things in it of yours that you want to keep and go to the next room. Don't try to do all the rooms at one time. When you are finished, see of you can place a half bath in one of the bedrooms. If not, consider taking some of the money from the sale of your house and putting a small addition on one of the bedrooms to add the half bath. Be calm and work at your own pace.

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April 23, 20110 found this helpful
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Don't worry about resale value if you plan on living there for more than a few years. You can often add a powder room or shower bath in a small space, you could add a main level laundry also and only use one bedroom's space. I find most people with small children still like two baths and main level laundries are the norm now. Also if you cannot purge enough items to fit in the smaller home, you could store them in the garage or a storage unit until you know what you want to use. Each home has it's own personality and what I loved in my old home would not work in my new one. Good luck and be comforted by your mother's presence in her home. Grieving will not last forever.

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April 25, 20110 found this helpful
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I think you are mostly overwhelmed by everything because you are still grieving. I'd just try to take it one thing at a time (at least mentally) and try not to stress. I purchased my grandparents house. I loved them dearly (though not to be compared to the loss of a mother). After a while, I almost "forgot" it was originally their house, and at times when I was unhappy about anything, it was a source of happiness. My biggest piece of advice would be to store anything you are not sure about getting rid of, until you are, and of course, don't complicate it by trying to keep too much of her stuff....a mistake common to many people.

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April 21, 20110 found this helpful

I suggest you stop a moment and read your letter sweetie....you said it all there. l. you need to grieve and won't let yourself do that. Look at the bright side your mother loved you and you loved her. She gave you all she had and it's driving you crazy but to find peace in that you will have to look at it without the sadness and see only the beauty. It sounds like you're leaving the place you're truly happy in. Make sure before you complete this step. Ask God to give you peace, do something that you and your mother enjoyed together and think of how you felt...how happy it made you feel. Dwell only on these things. Be careful not to throw away somethings you may regret after the pain subsides, and it will.

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April 22, 20110 found this helpful

Fuzzytufts is right. You have to allow yourself time to grieve. One thing that helped me through when my Mom died is I ran across an article (you can google the subject) on the 5 Stages of Grieving. It helped me to recognize the feelings I was having and to allow myself to feel them and get through them. In short, they are:

1. Denial and Isolation

2. Anger

3. Bargaining

4. Depression

5. Acceptance

Also, as you are giong through the things at her house, think about the good times you had together doing things. Or even just the good talks you had together. Think of the good times.

The most important thing is to give yourself TIME. Cry if you need to, and for as long as you need to. Daydream if you need to. TALK TO HER. Just because she died doesn't mean you can't talk to her anymore. Whether or not she can hear you is a matter of opinion. But it does help to talk to her, no matter what you believe about her hearing.

Good luck with everything you have to do.

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April 22, 20110 found this helpful

I am not too far from you since I live on the Main Line. We thrifty types need to stick together! Don't worry about putting in a new 1/2 bath since it will be a selling point when the time comes. If there are things you don't need you can give them to the Ft. Dix thrift shop. You know those troops and their families can well use them.

I am with you, Girl!

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April 22, 20110 found this helpful

Wow you sure have a lot going on. You mom left the house to you she wanted you to have it for she loved you and I'm sure she loved the house. She would want you to smile on, she wouldn't want you to be sad. Grab a piece of paper and make yourself a list, knock them out one at a time. You're getting yourself overwhelmed, slow down, take a deep breath. You say the worst thing is 1 bathroom, do you have a large closet that you could turn into a small bathroom, or maybe a large bedroom that you could add a bathroom to? Or maybe with the proceeds you can add a small addition onto the house? Explore you options. This day and time some people are looking for work, hire someone to help you, maybe a teenager to help you with the two sales you have going on. Take out a free ad in you local paper, hire someone for a few hours.

You say everything reminds you of her? Then smile, be happy, enjoy she would want that for you. The big house you left? Is it the space or the memories of that house you left? Ask yourself what is it really? Your house is a mess, her house is a mess (hugs) That is not your moms mess it's yours, lol, anyone who moves their house is a mess! Stop being so hard on yourself, ease up, relax and everything will fall into place, how about a cup of coffee, sugar? :)

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April 23, 20110 found this helpful

The solution to the bathroom problem will come to you, the messy house solution will come to you, the what to do with everything will come to you, but not until you are ready and receptive. In order to be ready you need to destress yourself. Take sometime to take care of you. Take a walk, watch a sunset, sleep late, get a make-over, what you do doesn't matter so much as doing for you. You have been so stressed and so busy that now everything has hit you like a ton of bricks. Give yourself permission to be a little bit selfish for just a little bit of time. Take some deep breaths and rest. Everything else will still be there when you are ready.

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April 23, 20110 found this helpful

Like the others said, take the time to grieve. Remember when you are cleaning things out you still have the memory. As far as the house though the trend is we are getting older. TAKE the TIME to make it the house you will get old(er) in comfortably. If that means you make it a 2 bedroom and a 2 bathroom house so be it! You'd be surprised how little room you need for a toilet and a shower (preferably handicapped accessible) for your future use. That is a great selling point believe me. Visit the local Lowe's or Home Depot etc. for ideas. Take your time and do it right and you will love it forever. Right now the pain is fresh but in a while you will feel comfort knowing this was mom and dad's house. Trust me on that one. I feel it when I sit in my mom's chair knowing she enjoyed it. It's almost like I can feel her with me, with love and good thoughts for you... Linda in PA.

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April 23, 20110 found this helpful

First of all I offer you my condolences on the loss of your mom. I lost my mom 4 years ago & there is not a day that goes by that I don't think of her. We were very close & I have wonderful memories of her. Even though I am 70 years old I still talk to her every night when saying my prayers. It does help. One thing that may help you tremendously is that when trying to decide when to let go of things be it giving it away, selling it, or throwing it away.....if it is something really special take a photo of it & keep it in a scrapbook. That way you will always be able to look @ it yet @ the same time you will have the space that it took up. You can not let go of stuff until you are ready. I am still in the process of doing so. Some days I get in the mood & give away & toss a box or two. Little by little it will get done. Right now you need your energy to get through the grieving. It sounds like you & your mom had a nice relationship filled with lots of love. Having no regrets after a loss is a great feeling. Enjoy what you had & keep the memories close to your heart.

As far as you wanting another bathroom, consider replacing one of the bedrooms with a bathroom. From time to time my hubby & I look around for another house to buy as ours is much too big for us & would love to find a 2 bedroom house. They are very difficult to find & yet we know that if we could find one the price would be so much more reasonable than being forced to buy a 3 or 4 bedroom house.

I wish you well in your journey & keep the faith. I will keep you in my prayers & I add hugs to this posting.

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April 23, 20110 found this helpful

Dear Valery, my thoughts and prayers are with you this day. I lost my mother almost 10 years ago. I still cry a little, and I will always miss her. It does get easier over time. Knowing she is in a better place helps, that and the many little things which come to mind and remind me of her make me smile. Your mother would want you to be happy, don't be so hard on yourself. As for the extra bathroom, even a half bath doesn't take that much room. If you plan on living there for a period of time go for it. God bless you.

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April 23, 20110 found this helpful

I'm so sorry for what you are going through! My mom is getting older & her health getting poorer. She's my best friend & I am already grieving because I know I won't have her much longer & I want every day I can get with her but we live 1000 miles apart, so I don't get to see her nearly enough.

You have a lot of good suggestions here. Also, as for living in your mom's house, instead of being sad because of the moemories of her there, let those memories wrap you in a blanket of love & hold your mom's memory close. I know, it's easier said than done.

You have enough on your plate as it is, you don't need to add to your stress with all the sorting & emotional decisions you are having to make over what you & your mom have accumulated. Packing & moving are hard enough, but when you add the emootional aspect of having to go through a lifetime of accumulation of yours & a mother you just lost...well, you know how much harder that is!

My suggestion would be to:

1 - go ahead & get rid of the things you don't have to give a 2nd thought to as you pack up your stuff and hers.

2- what you know you need & will use, pack in boxes labeled with contents & "unpack now"

3- anything of yours & especially hers that you have to think about whether to keep or not - don't think about it! Pack the stuff & label it (mom's linens, mom's clothing, my knick-knacks, etc). Move it with you & stack the boxes in the corner of a room,in the garage, or even a small storage rental-or buy a small shed.

4- once you are moved in, settled, have time on your hands, are emotionally better prepared - then you can start going through the boxes one at a time & deciding what to do with them.

When my grandma died, my mom was in no emotional condition to sort through her things. Grandma was a packrat & her house was filled to the rafters. We threw away stuff that was considered trash & gave things away that had no emotional value-no problem. But when it came to other things like grandma's clothes, personal items, housewares, papers, books etc - my mom became more & more agitated as we tried to sort through it & decide what to do with it all. She wanted to keep ridiculous things (like open containers of face cream & makeup, clothes she couldn't wear but remembered her mom wearing)I knew that she just wanted to keep her mother & her memories close by holding onto her posessions & was not in an emotional condition to go through it all. So, after we got rid of stuff that was a no-brainer & set aside stuff my mom or her brother/sister-in-law wanted immediate use of, my order to her & everyone helping us was to pack EVERYTHING (unless it was food or something that would attract bugs) into boxes labeled by the room they were in - period.

We then hauled everything back to my mom's house & stacked it in a corner of her garage(this was July). There they sat until the next summer when I went out to visit. My aunt & cousins met me at my mom's for a day & we started going through boxes & sorting what we each wanted & what we were going to give away. They all took their stuff when they left. Once again, my mom wanted to keep stuff like old worn out purses & clothes,etc. So, I left out what she wanted to keep & use, then re-packed the emotional, useless items she just couldn't part with. The next summer, mom & I went through the same process of sorting through stuff. This time she was able to see that she really didn't need alot of this stuff (like 10 old,worn, out-of-style purses & wallets she would never use) & that it was just STUFF that she could get rid of & still keep her memories.

We managed to get rid of a lot more stuff that summer & after that my mom continued to sort through & get rid of things on her own when she was ready. Doing it this way allowed time to heal, making it easier & less stressful to make decisions, & giving us a chance to share our memories with each other.

Good luck & may you find happy peaceful memories amid this turmoil & upheaval you are going through!

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April 23, 20110 found this helpful

I am sorry for your loss. My family & I purchased my parents' home after they passed away several years ago. We were able to take some money from the sale of our existing home & upgrade and change some things in the "new" home which helped to make it feel more like our home than my parents' home. The neighbors were all very supportive and it was fun living in my old neighborhood (I grew up there). There were a lot of changes over the years, but to me it was like being "home" again. My family was very comfortable there (was a huge concern at first) and it was a very good move for all of us. No regrets. I pray that you find peace in your new home even with one bathroom it's great to downsize. But my point is to make it your own home, keep the memories, but decorate it to be comfortable for you & your family.

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April 24, 20110 found this helpful

Once you get on top of the move everything will seem a little easier. The jumble and confusion is adding to your depression at the moment. Try 'flylady.com' for a sympathetic been-there help with moving. Or you could buy her book 'Sink Reflections', it will help you cope a little at a time. And there's great advice on moving house. Can you think of your mother with joy? Perhaps not at the moment, you've so much on your plate. But just think how lucky you are to have had such a great mother and be glad for all that she has given you.

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April 25, 20110 found this helpful

Wow, what wonderful tips and responses to my question. I feel like I know some of you, your responses were personal and right on track. Thank you, thank you. I have been crying most of the morning and now I have stopped. I will be moving down the Jersey shore. Anyone in the area? Need a new friend? I know some of the neighbors somewhat from spending so many years at mom's house, my house. But no friends yet. I feel lost. There is a small quilting shop up the road, thought I'd try it out. Have wanted to learn quilting. Just need to find myself a corner to sew in. There is a great sun porch, and I plan on keeping it as such. Although my husband has other ideas. It will be a great place for my plants and to sew and read. I will be writing back again, as I love all your answers. Thank you again. With all my heart. And I am sure Mom and Dad thank you also. When they look down and see the repairs, thankfully not much, but updating. And we need a garage. So that will need to be built. I will keep in touch with the move, if that OK with you all.

God bless you all. Val

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June 2, 20130 found this helpful

Totally had this exact same scenario a few years ago when we moved from a low-rent city to one of the more expensive ones in the US. I found a combination of purging, a trip to the container store, and getting a storage unit got us 99% of the way there. After that, it's all about limiting the size of things you buy!!!

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June 12, 20160 found this helpful

I agree with Diane.... you don't need the stuff if you have the memories.

I personally would pick out a few things for memories' sake and take the rest to a shelter or thrift shop to be sold for support of an organization.

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